By Claire Conlan
Opening on Thursday, March 15 at 8 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Sacred Heart University’s Theatre Arts Program will be performing their final play of 2017-2018 lineup, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
Directed by Adjunct Instructor in the Performing Arts Department Kevin Connors, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” follows the story of a powerful Southern family.
Sexually frustrated tensions, troubled relationships, and confrontations and lies all lead to a “stormy” climax where secrets are revealed.
“The play is about an old Southern family, the Pollitts,” said sophomore Justin Weigel, who plays Gooper in the production. “It’s a hot summer night in July and the whole family comes over to the house for Big Daddy’s birthday. It’s a happy occasion, or so we think. We find out that Big Daddy is dying of cancer and this good ole Southern family is in trouble.”
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play written in 1955 by American playwright, Tennessee Williams. This play sheds light on this Southern family’s dynamic, greed, levity, suppression, and lust.
“I think this play is one of the best plays ever written, and it’s a true American classic,” said senior Patrick Robinson, who plays Big Daddy in the production. “The depth that Tennessee Williams has created in this masterpiece sets it apart from everything else.”
One conflict lies between the two brothers, Brick and Gooper, as one of them will get Big Daddy’s plantation if or when he dies of cancer.
“Working with the cast and our director Kevin Connors has been my favorite part of the whole production,” said junior Matthew Henshaw, who plays Brick in the production. “It’s a smaller cast, which I always love. Every member of the cast is just working so diligently and so hard. It’s going to make a wonderful production.”
Brick is dealing with not only his father’s illness but also with alcoholism and depression. Big Daddy has a sense of vulnerability with Brick because of his struggles.
“Much of the second act is an interpersonal dialogue between the favorite son and the father, and a lot of the family secrets come out,” said Connors. “It is really interesting, very emotional, and fascinating. The writing is so brilliant. Tennessee Williams is one of the greatest writers ever. It takes you on a great emotional journey.”
This is the first production Connors has directed at Sacred Heart. The cast has been rehearsing with him for approximately five to six hours daily.
“I love directing [“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”] in an intimate space because I think it allows you to really focus on the characters and the story,” said Connors.
Hours of script reading, reinforcing the dialogue and integrating roles have gone into the making of this play.
“Having the rehearsal time and actually working with an amazing cast… We are like a big team. Each of us really wants this show to be the best it can so we all rely on one another,” said senior Nicole Jablonski, who plays Big Mama in the production.
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” will have eight different showings. March 15-17 at 8 p.m., March 18 at 3 p.m., March 22-24 at 8 p.m., and March 25 at 3 p.m.
“This is one of the really classic pieces of American Drama,” said Connors. “Parts of it are really funny. Even though this was written in the 1950s, everyone will be able to relate to this because family drama is family drama. It doesn’t matter what generation it is.”